By DAVID A. WILSON
Class 3 Missouri counties are required to be audited by the Missouri State Auditor's Office. Moniteau County, as one of these counties, received its audit report on Monday, July 8. A number of areas needing attention were noted in the report.
Using a four-tier rating system - Excellent, Good, Fair or Poor - the auditors put Moniteau County operations into the fair category. In the auditor's words, "The audit results indicate this entity needs to improve operations in several areas."
• The first concern mentioned in the audit report was fund cash balances. "As noted in prior audits," the report stated, "the financial condition of the General Revenue (GR) Fund and the Special Road and Bridge (SRB) Fund remains poor. In addition, the Capital Improvement (CI) Fund cash balance has significantly declined in recent years."
Voters approved a one-half cent sales tax levy in 2002. The sales tax was to maintain and improve roads, bridges, the courthouse, the county jail, replace bridges when needed, maintaining law enforcement and "other essential services of county government."
This tax brings in more than $500,000 each year and this money is deposited in the Capital Improvement Fund. The fund increased less than expected because of transfers made to the General Revenue Fund for county operations and other purposes. Construction of the new jail was delayed until an architectural design was approved and sufficient funds were available. The jail, completed in March, cost approximately $3.1 million. The audit noted that the county stopped paying some of the Road and Bridge expenses from the Capital Improvement Fund in 2009 to ensure sufficient money for jail construction.
In a response, the County Commission assured the auditors that the financial condition of the county is closely monitored on a monthly basis and ensures county resources are used efficiently, reducing spending where possible.
As far as the jail is concerned, construction was delayed until the architectural designs were acceptable and the funds were available. When contruction began, it was thought some funds would have to be borrowed. According to Presiding County Commissioner Kenny Kunze, the funds continued to accrue in the Capital Improvement Fund were sufficient to avoid borrowing.
Since all jail construction costs have now been paid, a local use tax became effective July 1 and an effort is being made to reduce expenditures, the Commission hopes the financial condition will improve.
A chart of the expenditures made from the Capital Improvements Fund to date indicated more than 53 percent went to jail construction.
A major point of the auditors was that the county budgeted a General Revenue Fund deficit of $3,780 for the year. The Commission said that in the future, it "will refrain" from budgeting deficits.
• Another concern dealt with inadequate records for Capital Assets and Vehicles. Each department is responsible for performing annual inspections and inventories of county property used by their department. In 2012, only the Roads and Bridges Department had done so. Some of the records were apparently also lost when a lightning strike took down the power to the computers.
• Also of concern to the auditors was a lack of sufficent fuel and mileage records with which to monitor vehicle and fuel use.
The Road and Bridge Department, Sheriff's Department and Assessor's Office spent about $198,500 on fuel for the year 2012 for 53 vehicles, including one Assessor's Office vehicle and nine patrol cars.
The audit report said, "Sufficiently detailed logs should be maintained for all trips so the county can effectively monitor vehicle and equipment use and fuel costs." The report said that although monthly fuel statements are reviewed by the County Commission, Sheriff, Assessor and County Clerk, reconciliation of the statements to records of fuel used and fuel inventory is not possible without adequate fuel records.
Previously, no mileage or fuel logs were maintained for the Assessor's vehicle. The Assessor implemented a mileage log starting June 1.
The Sheriff's office was reported to lack sufficient fuel and mileage records. Even though Sheriff's Office employees are required to document mileage on daily reports and attach fuel receipts to the reports, the reports were noted to be often not completed and/or fuel receipts not attached. The Sheriff reported that the office has switched to a "fleet line fuel card" which tracks fuel use by requiring odometer readings at each fill up, listing each vehicle and deputy. Monthly statements are reviewed by the sheriff and sent to the courthouse for payment.
The situation for the Road and Bridge Department is somewhat more difficult to assess since much of the fleet consists of heavy equipment. Mileage records are, at best, misleading for the department's six roadgraders, three backhoes, two highloaders, two brushcutters and one tractor with a brushhog since miles driven do not necessarily correlate with work use.
The logs and mileage records maintained are be useful for the nine dumptrucks and eight pickups. A bulk fuel tank is maintained and a log of bulk fuel purchases and individual logs indicating fuel dispensed for each equipment item.
• Computer controls were another issue addressed by the auditors.
The audit report indicated the controls are not sufficient to to prevent unauthorized access, or to restore key systems in the event of a disaster or system failure.
Specifically noted was that passwords were not kept confidential in the offices of the sheriff or public administrator. They are not required to be changed periodically in the sheriffs office or recorder of deeds. In addition, the Audit reported that security controls were not present to prevent or detect incorrect log-on attempts. That part turned out to be incorrect. The log-in security controls are present.
The County Commission reported that it is working with each of the county offices to improve the computer security through monitored backups and password changes. A problem with the Recorder of Deeds computers is that password changes must be made by IT personnel in another state. The passwords have been changed and will be done as required.
• Sheriff's paper service fees were mentioned as being a deficency. Although the service fees have been marked as paid starting in Aug. 2012, no followup has been done on the unpaid amounts. Amounts due were about $3,100 from 2012 to April 2013.
The sheriff has now implemented a spreadsheet to track civil paper fees due. Collection letters are sent once a month.
• A concern about the County Collector's Office and Property Tax records and reporting is addressed in a separate article.
Although the Prosecutors Office was not mentioned in the report, Prosecuting Attorney Shayne Healey said the office was checked and no deficiencies were found.